Deep Dive: Project Schedule Management: Control Schedule

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

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We’re almost at the end of the deep dive into the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition, and what it has to say about Project Schedule Management. Last time I looked at the Develop Schedule process.

Today we are moving out of the Planning process group and moving into Monitoring and Controlling for the sixth process: Control Schedule. This is the last process in the Knowledge Area.

Here are the previous instalments:

Plan Schedule Management

Define Activities

Sequence Activities

Estimate Activity Durations

Develop Schedule

Control Schedule Process

The Control Schedule process happens on an ongoing basis throughout the execution part of a project. As you are doing the work, you are constantly going back to the schedule to track your progress, make changes and ensure the schedule still reflects reality.

As a result, the biggest output of the process is changes. You won’t put every schedule change through change control, but you’ll be using work performance information to make daily tweaks to the schedule to keep everything on track.

Inputs

We see the common trend to simplify again in this process. Project schedule, project calendars and schedule data have been replaced by project documents in the Inputs list. You can still use all those documents for this process, but they aren’t called out individually any longer as specific Inputs.

You can also draw on:

  • Lessons learned register – this turns up a lot in the PMI guidance for processes; it’s a constant reminder to check what other projects have learned before you go ahead with anything
  • Resource calendars – because you might have to make changes as a result of changes to resource availability.

And of course this isn’t a definitive list. Use whatever you need to in order to track, monitor and control progress against the schedule in a timely and efficient way.

Tools & Techniques

There are a few changes to Tools & Techniques, but they are all logical and make a lot of sense.

Performance reviews is out. These related to contract performance specifically, if I remember rightly, so the focus here is on being flexible enough to acknowledge some of the work (if not all of it) is performed by people who are employed by the organisation requesting the project. If I’m honest, my big issue with previous versions of the PMBOK® Guide was around the fact a lot of it was written as if you were outsourcing a lot of the work and buying in lots of services from contractors. Yes, I’ve worked on projects where that is the case, but not all my projects (or yours, I imagine) have been mainly supervising the work of contractors. We have internal staff who are also heavily involved in doing project work.

Project management software and scheduling tool have been replaced by project management information system, as we have seen elsewhere in other processes.

Resource optimisation techniques is now simply resource optimisation.

Modelling techniques is out.

The new T&T are:

  • Data analysis, which covers a wide range of techniques including earned value, agile tracking with burndown charts, performance reviews (which were specifically taken out and included in the more generic term here), trend and variance analysis of schedule performance and the ‘what if’ analysis we also saw in the last process.
  • Critical path method. This is basically using the critical path progress to track progress. If the tasks on the critical path slip, so does the end date for the project. In many software tools you can capture the original critical path and then use the software feature to show you the comparison of the original against the current progress. You can also use the critical path to help you identify schedule risk that should be on your risk register.

Outputs

The Outputs stay the same except organisational process assets updates has dropped off the list. If updating your schedule and controlling your project resulted in some business process having to change, then by all means report that to the PMO as a lesson learned. If updating an organisational process asset makes sense then do it anyway, even if it is no longer an output of this process. If you’ve got an example of when you doing schedule control has changed the way your business operates, then let us all know in the comments below, as I’m struggling to come up with a relevant example. Thanks!

That brings us to the end of the Project Schedule Management Knowledge Area. Next month, I’ll be looking at the trends and tailoring guidance for this topic. As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve followed the whole series, we’re seeing more specific guidance for Agile approaches through the different processes, so I’m expecting to see more information about that called out in the PMBOK® Guide. Watch this space!

Pin for later reading:

Posted on: May 07, 2019 09:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (8)

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Thanks Elizabeth, Good read.

Thanks, Elizabeth! Positive changes from fifth to sixth editions.

Very useful Elizabeth, thanks

Wonderful post on control schedule process. Very nicely explained what are new to and what are removed from 6th edition in this process.

Thanks for sharing!!

Greetings Elizabeth,
Well presented content, the changes perfectly highlighted.Very good read.
Thanks.

Thanks for sharing Elizabeth

thanks for sharing, really like this.

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